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Some traditions state that Jesus visited India between the ages of 12 and 33, in order to study and learn. What evidence is there that he did or did not visit India?

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This is a good question, but I'd suggest you approach the answers with an open mind. You seem rather set on someone confirming for you that Jesus did spend time studying in India when there is no evidence to support it. –  Yuck Oct 29 '13 at 12:00
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"India was the destination of the world to get the knowledge". Not the destination for all. Probably not for a Jew who would instead be studying the Torah and rabbinical writings somewhere within Israel. –  outXast Jan 21 at 19:06
    
India was also not the destination for any Roman citizen, which Jesus was pretty close to. If you wanted to learn, it was Rome, Alexandria, then perhaps Athens, in that order. –  fredsbend Jan 21 at 20:49
    
Actually Rozabel grave in Kashmir, relation to buddist teachings lead me to ask this question. Also the fact about unknown years in the life of Jesus too. –  MoonMind Feb 2 at 15:49
    
There would also be no need for a conspiracy. If there where any credible historical evidence of such a visit then it would probably have been part of Christian doctrine from the start. –  Neil Meyer Jun 4 at 10:03
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5 Answers 5

Where was Jesus from his age 12 to 33? Was he in India for study? Else where was he?

From age 12 to 30 in Nazareth. And from 30 to 33 in and around Jerusalem. Where else? And no he was not in India.

Why most scriptures are silent on this?

Because scriptures are NOT the biography of Christ. Their intention and purpose were different. They wanted to record the story of salvation. And from a christian perspective, by divine providence, the hidden life of Christ (age 12 to 30) is not necessary for that.

Before 2000 years ago, India was the destination of the world to get the knowledge(and now also), I believe that chances are high on this case?

If assuming that Jesus traveled to gain knowledge, I am sorry, rather than India, more convenient and feasible destination would be Rome. Rome was connected by road to Jerusalem and by extension to Nazareth too. Think about the dangers of crossing all those countries to reach India. Also remember India was not a single country at that time, a host of kingdoms ruled over India in those days. (All of this in the assumption of ignoring Jerusalem, which the center for Jewish studies, and that Jesus needed to travel to gain knowledge, which he never preached about or talked about in his later years.)

There are many other problems in this hypothesis. Some of them are:

  1. There are absolutely no concrete evidence. Absolutely nothing!! Those people who claim that he came to India, say that there are scrolls hidden deep in some monastery. But that is not evidence. It is just fables. I can claim anything like this. These are NOT mentioned in any reliable sources nor can be verified at all.
  2. Jesus being a devout Jew would not have studied from a poly-theistic religion. At-least it should have reflected in his teaching, which it did not.
  3. We know from his public life that Just like every other devout Jew he made pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year. That last recorded event of Jesus' childhood was a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. From which we can reasonably assume that he did make the pilgrimage in his hidden life too. If he was in India, even a single trip to and from India that time would be extremely dangerous and difficult no matter through what means of transportation. Also, the trip would be very costly considering that Jesus' family was poor.
  4. Jesus was known in his community as a carpenter since it was a Jewish tradition for young boys to learn their father's trade. His parables were even influenced by his job. He told of building a house on a rock as opposed to sand. (Matt 7: 24-27)This is a great indication that Jesus has spent his adolescent years around the community.
  5. There are numerous passages in the bible which states that people recognized him and refused to believe in him because he was just a carpenter and they knew him too well to accept him. Which implies that Jesus was very well known in his communityMatt 2:23; Lk 2:51-52; Lk 4:22; Matt 13:54-56 which would not be possible if he was in India for most of His life.
  6. Why did Jesus not talk about it to his disciples or apostles? None of the early records mentioned it. Jews did not like Jesus. So when they waned to condemn him, they would have easily said that he had learned heretical thing in the foreign land. They knew who he was, and people knew who he was. So this coming to India hypothesis does not hold good.

P.S: There is another one called swoon hypothesis which claims that he came after his death. Explaining that would be out of scope for the question you have asked. But I guess Wikipedia does a decent job in explaining the problems with it.

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In general, I agree with this answer, and I upvoted it, but I'd suggest one change: The answer "in Nazareth" applies to ages 12 to 30, but I think the time from age 30 to 33 is already Jesus's public life, so He was traveling to many places in Judea, Galilee, Samaria, etc. during those three years. –  Andreas Blass Aug 7 '13 at 8:09
    
There are no concrete evidences for either of this, the question and the answer. If there were nothing special happened in between these years, why not mentioning anything about those years(and also calling hidden years), even a single word in scriptures? As Jesus is inspiring many people by his words, then why not revealing his own life as an example to the world? It is obvious that people are curious about the biography of people who inspire us. I don't get a reason for this hidden age? And how can you say so surely that he was not in India? –  MoonMind Aug 7 '13 at 18:59
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//If there were nothing special happened in between these years, why not mentioning anything about those years(and also calling hidden years), even a single word in scriptures?...And how can you say so surely that he was not in India?// I think I answered that already. Hidden years is not necessary for salvation. Most important reason why he was not in India is it contradicts scripture and does not show in his teaching. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Aug 8 '13 at 5:50
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//the true knowledge was not there?// That is a very bad assumption for a christian to make. And it does not make any sense. And what do you mean by true knlowdge? (Gnosticism is not a Christian or Jewish thing) //he was not doing nothing special for all these years?// Who said he was not doing anything special? Bible says he "grew in wisdom and stature" –  Jayarathina Madharasan Aug 8 '13 at 5:50
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I have answered your question, But I understand that you may not be satisfied with the replies from a Christian perspective. But we can not go on debating in the comment section. If we continue to do so, We will be warned by Admins. Hence if you want any clarification from a christian perspective, please ask it as a question. I or Others will try to answer it. Please follow the site guidelines when you do so. Thanks. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Aug 14 '13 at 10:05
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Jesus was called Rabbi (Teacher of the Law of Moses) by the Jews.

John 3:1-2 (NIV) Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

To be called a Rabbi, one must be very expert in Torah. People spend their entire life learning the Torah. It is vast and complicated. Jesus was very expert in Torah and no one at that time could argue with Him. Jesus always quoted from the Old Testament, I can't list them all here.

If Jesus was expert in Torah, it means that He spent his 12-30 years learning the Torah, if Jesus needed to learn something. Torah was available only in the hands of Jews, not in India. But I doubt that Jesus needed to learn because He is the Word of God himself, He is the creator of all things, His wisdom is far beyond our reach. He didn't have to learn from His own creation. Instead, He came to teach us about God, He came to lead us to God.

If you look at the world map, India is very far away from Israel and there is no direct sea route. If Jesus needed to learn something more apart from the Torah, He could have gone to Greece to learn from the great philosophers and mathematicians out there. Greece was much closer and could be reached by sea voyage.

Here is an example of Jesus replying from the Torah when a man asked about inheriting eternal life.

Luke 18:18-22 (NIV)

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus did not explain the man about Samsara (endless rebirth) and how to attain Moksha (liberation from endless rebirth), instead, Jesus told the man to sell everything and follow Him because there is eternal life in Him (John 3:16).

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He is the Word of God himself, He is the creator of all things, His wisdom is far beyond our reach: you said it, this is the true knowledge –  MoonMind Aug 13 '13 at 18:39
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There is no biblical support or any evidence that Jesus left the land of His birth at any time, leave aside the speculation that He was in India before beginning His ministry in Israel. From the time when Jesus lived, it is unreasonable to expect to have each and every details account of any person, like we can have it today on any medium. Of the four Gospel accounts, only two mention the birth of Jesus (Matthew and Luke), and only one (Luke) mentions anything about Jesus' life prior to His beginning His three-year ministry in Israel.

While the Bible doesn't explicitly say this, it is implied from the following passage in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus grew up in Nazareth with His family until it was time to begin His ministry:

Luke 4:16,22-24

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was His custom. And he stood up to read.... All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. ‘Isn't this Joseph's son?’ they asked. Jesus said to them, ‘Surely you will quote this proverb to me: “Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum." I tell you the truth,’ he continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his hometown’”.

Notice that Luke says that Jesus was "brought up" in Nazareth, and he also mentions twice that Nazareth was Jesus' hometown. Furthermore, the people in the synagogue knew Jesus and knew that he was Joseph's son. All of this leads to the conclusion that Jesus lived in relative obscurity in Nazareth until His baptism.

Despite this fairly clear account, there are those who want to fill in the gaps in Jesus' life with extraordinary tales of adventure and mystery. Their ultimate source is the father of lies, Satan (John 8:44). As he did in the beginning, so he is doing now. At the baptism of Jesus, a voice from heaven proclaimed,

Matt.3:17 “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”.

Jesus of Nazareth was declared by God the Father to be His one and only Son. All of these conspiracy theories attempt to divert us from God's declaration that Jesus was His Son. They do so by downplaying or denying outright the deity of Jesus Christ. By denying His divinity, they reduce Jesus to just another rabbi, prophet, sage or wise man.

If Jesus went to India prior to His three-year ministry, then one would expect there to be a distinct Indian flavour to His teaching. However, Jesus' displays vast knowledge of the Torah. Jesus quotes the Hebrew Scriptures all throughout His earthly ministry to the point of correcting even the learned scholars of His day. His teaching style was consistent with the Jewish itinerant teachers of His day.

Finally, if we assume for the argument sake that He came to India and studied some things about India then one would wonder why he ignored and not mentioned any Indian names while mentioning all the prophets of one true God.

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Where Jesus was during those times cannot be said with any academic certainty. No credible source ever even mentions it. Quite a few of the other answers point out exactly why Jesus was very likely never in India 1, so I will neglect to parrot it.

I do want to point out one thing that I have learned recently. A contemporary of Jesus was Apollonius of Tyana. Not only are there similarities between them concerning claims of miracles, including resurrection, there are also similarities concerning teachings. The more I look into Apollonius the more I see subtle similarities in their teachings. Whether Apollonius' or Jesus' stories borrow from each other is really a matter of opinion, however, we would be foolish to not think that there might be some. On the unsupported point that Jesus was in India, we can argue that it was borrowed from the stories about Apollonius because he certainly was in India for several years. Considering some of their similarities, it is not a stretch to think that the first person who mentioned that Jesus was in India was actually referring to Apollonius.


Just wanting to finish the thoughts, Jesus and Apollonius did have several major differences in their lives. The first is that Apollonius did travel during his "ministry", visiting a range as large as Rome to India. Jesus, relatively speaking, did not. In addition to that, Jesus rarely went into the large towns. Apollonius focused almost exclusively on them. The second is that Jesus was a constant critic of the leaders and wealthy; Apollonius was a friend to them.


1: When I say India I mean Jesus' geographical, contemporary equivalent, who's name eludes me at this time.

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Jesus may very well have went to (pre)India. The complete silence about it being precisely because Jews at the time would have regarded uttering Indian teachings to be criminal heresy. He may have been so moved by what he learned that he dressed the lessons he was passing on in an orthodox manner, making them more palatable to the Jews of the time. Many of his thoughts and ideas were very much the same as Buddhists were teaching, and it would not have taken much effort to blend them with Pharisee theology. I promise, I am not the devil, but am implored to play devils advocate here as so many Christians have railed on your question with little more than religious bias as their backing. Explore the idea, seek out evidence. Because if it did happen and it was never known simply because of peoples assumptions, it would be an unimaginable tragedy.

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Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. I actually can't find a single claim in here that would be defensible in any sort of academic literature. [citation_needed] I understand that many of these positions may be believed by some people, but they are not indicative of cited facts. I am happy to seek out the evidence, but this doesn't point to any of it. –  Affable Geek Jan 21 at 18:01
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1. The Jews didn't have criminal heresy. They had blashpemy - claiming to be God or mocking him, but heresy was quite well toleratd. –  Affable Geek Jan 21 at 18:03
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2. Jesus very definitely was not Buddhist when it came to his understanding of reincarnation, joy & suffering, or even the point of life. –  Affable Geek Jan 21 at 18:03
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3. Jesus was very much opposed to Pharisitical teaching, and would not have sought to blend anything with their teaching. –  Affable Geek Jan 21 at 18:04
    
@AffableGeek On point 1, it was not called heresy, but there were certainly Jews killing Jews at the time over religious matters. Mostly, it revolved around being loyal to Rome, while also claiming that you were loyal to God. The issue did stem from considering something blasphemy because Rome had just deified Augustus. Worshiping him was expected of every Roman; it was what loyal Romans should do. The Jews were exempt from it, but some still thought even association with Rome was blasphemy because of their obvious paganism. The point is that minor differences in opinion led to persecutions. –  fredsbend Jan 21 at 20:20
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